Friday, September 12, 2008

How to fix an iPhone which fails restore

Apple released the iPhone 2.1 Software Update today. When I got home, I immediately put my iPhone in its dock, launched iTunes, and clicked Check for Updates. There it was... the iPhone 2.1 Software Update waiting to be downloaded. I told it to continue and then I popped in a movie because these updates tend to take a while.

A while later, I went back to my computer to find a message stating that the update had failed and the iPhone would have to be restored. That sucked, but I didn't give it a second thought (since there were no other options presented to me) and chose the Restore option.

As the progress bar reached the end, I was presented with this fun message:

The iPhone "iPhone" could not be restored. An unknown error occurred (6).

When I clicked OK, it told me that iTunes found my iPhone in a safe mode state and I repeated the process of clicking Restore which led me right back to this same error. I went through this a third time (third time's a charm... right?) but had the same results. My phone was officially bricked!

I clicked the Help button and that took me to the "Update and restore error messages on the iPhone and iPod touch" article on Apple's support site.

I have worked in technical support for most of my adult life, and I could tell immediately that this is your very typical 'all-in-one' BS article that does not resolve the issue. I didn't even have to try the steps mentioned. Someone at Apple needs to take a good look at their knowledge base and review answers such as these. It is rediculous that you would have your customers jump through a lengthy string of hoops only to not resolve the issue or be told to call support (we all know how long those phone calls can be).

The REAL problem was that the file that iTunes downloaded was corrupt. The problem, however, is that once your iPhone is bricked there is no way to tell iTunes to re-download it.

(Note: These steps worked for me. I don't claim that this will work for everyone. I am not responsible if these steps make your situation worse, but let's face it... at this point your iPhone is already bricked so how much worse could it get?)

  1. Manually download the appropriate iPhone 2.1 firmware from Apple (iPhone 2G / iPhone 3G).
  2. On the iPhone screen in iTunes, hold down the 'Option' key ('Shift' on PC) and click the Restore button. In the file selection window, point it to the file you downloaded in step 1 and click OK.
  3. After the firmware is installed, it will ask you whether you want to (1) set your phone up as a new iPhone, or if you want to (2) restore from a backup of . Choosing the latter will restore your phone to it's previous condition.
If you want, you can delete the original file that iTunes downloaded and replace it with the good file that you downloaded for safe keeping.

Mac OSX: ~/Library/iTunes/iPhone Software Updates

That's it! Now why couldn't Apple provide a simple soution such as that instead of making their customers get frustrated spending hours going through troubleshooting steps that are not going to resolve their issue or having to call support? Their support team surely doesn't need the extra workload! The customer is already frustrated and upset. They just want a quick and easy solution.

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